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text, the world is crucified unto me, and I am cru: cified unto the world: that is, illicit cupidity exists no longer with respect to me, and I subsist no longer with respect to it.
2. There is, however, a certain degree of ambiguity in these ideas of deadness to the world, of crucifixion to the world, of a total rupture with the world. For this reason it is that we said, that in order to have just ideas of this disposition of mind, it is not sufficient to comprehend the nature of it, but that we should also understand the gradations of which it admits. If, in order worthily to sustain the Christian character, an absolute renunciation of the world, in the literal sense of the words, were indispensably necessary, where is the person, alas! who durst pretend to assume that name? Would it be a Noah ? Would it be an Abraham ? Would it be a Moses? Would it be a David ? Would it be a Peter? Would it be a Paul ? Would it be one of you, Christians of our own days ? who seem to have carried piety to its highest degree of fervor, and who shine as lights in the world, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, Phil. ii. 15.
Where, then, are those saints to be found, in whom an ill-smothered cupidity emits no sparks ? That female is an example of what is called virtue, by way of eminence, in her sex; and which, according to the ideas of the age in which we live, seems to constitute the whole of virtue, as far as she is concerned ; but, impregnable to all the assaults that can be made upon her chastity, she succombs under the slightest temptation that attacks her on the side of avarice, and she loses all self-government, the moment you recommend to her to take care that her charities be in something like proportion to her opulence.
That man is a pattern of reflective retirement, and modest silence; but, unshaken by the rudest attacks made upon his spirit of reserve, he yields to the slightest solicitations of pride; he decks himself out with the names and titles of his ancestors, he admires himself in the poorest effusions of his brain. How easy would it be to multiply examples of this sort !
But if it be impossible to say, taking the expression in the strictness of interpretation, that the Christian has broken off all commerce with the world, that he is dead to the world, that the world is crucified unto him, and that he is crucified unto the world ; he possesses this disposition of mind, nevertheless, in various respects, and to a certain degree. He is crucified unto the world, he is so in respect of intention, he has that sincere will to pull down every strong hold, ever thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God: it is an expression of St. Paul, 2 Cor. x. 4,5. Hence such protestations as these : O Lord ! thou hast searched me, and known me, Psa. cxxxix. 1. Lord ! thou knowest that I love thee, Jo. xxi. 17. Hence the bitterness of regret on account of remaining imperfection : O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Rom. vii. 24. Hence those prayers for the communication of fresh supplies of heavenly aid : Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wonderous things out of thy law, Psa. cxix. 18.
Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God: Thy spirit is good, lead me into the land of uprightness, Psa. cxliii. 10.
He is crucified unto the world. He is so in respect of exertion and actual progress.
Hence those unremitting conflicts with the remains of indwelling corruption : I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, 1 Cor. ix. 27. Hence those advances in the Christian course : Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after .... This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, Phil. iii. 12, 13, 14.
He is crucified unto the world. He is so in respect to hope and fervor. Hence those sighings after the dissolution of the body, which forms, as it were, a wall of separation between God and us. Hence those ardent breathings after a dispensation, an economy of things, in which we shall be able to give an unrestrained effusion to the love of order, and be completely united to Jesus Christ. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened ; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life, ..... knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord :
and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord, 2 Cor. v. 4, 6, 8.
S. But the Holy Spirit, in representing to us our renunciation of the world, under the idea of a death, of a crucifixion, intended to mark not only the nature, and the digress of the disposition of mind which these expressions denote; but likewise to indicate the difficulty, the bitterness of making such a sacrifice.
In very rare instances do men die without suffering Death, in the mildest form, is usually preceded by violent symptoms, which some have denominated the harbingers of death. These harbingers of death, are mortal swoonings, feverish
heats, paroxysms of pain, tortures insupportable. Crucifixion, especially, was the most cruel punishment which human justice, shall I call it ? or human barbarity ever invented. The imagination recoils from the representation of a man nailed to a tree, suspended by the iron which pierces his hands and his feet, pressed downward with the weight of his body, the blood of which is drained off drop by drop, till he expires merely from the excess of anguish.
Is this frightful image overstrained, when employed to represent the pains which the Christian is called to endure, the conflicts which he has to maintain, the sacrifices which he is bound to make, agonies which he is under an indispensable necessity to undergo, before he possibly can attain that blessed state which our apostle had, through grace, arrived at, when he said, in the words of
my text, the world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world!
Represent to yourselves a Christian, represent to yourselves a man as yet a novice in the school of Jesus Christ, called to combat, sometimes the propensities which he brought with him into the world; sometimes to eradicate a habit which has grown up in him, till it is become a second nature; sometimes, to stem the torrent of custom and example ; sometimes, to mortify and subdue a headstrong passion, which engrosses him, transports him, drags him away captive; sometimes, to bid an everlasting farewell to the place of his birth, to his kindred, and like Abraham, to go out, not knowing whither he went ; sometimes, with that same patriarch, to immolate an only son ; to tear himself, on a dying bed, from friends, from a spouse, from a child, whom he loves as his own
soul ; and all this without murmuring or complainting; and all this, because it is the will of God; and all this, with that submission which was expressed by Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of the Christian faith, his Redeemer and his pattern: Not what I will, but what thou wilt, Matt. xxvi. 89.
O cross of my Saviour, how heavily dost thou press, when laid upon a man who has not yet carried love to thee to that height, which renders all things easy to him who loveth! () path of virtue, which appearest so smooth to them that walk in thee, how rugged is the road which leadeth unto thee ! O yoke of Jesus Christ, so easy! burden so light to him who has been accustomed to bear thee; how difficult, how oppressive to those who are but beginning to try their strength! You see it, accordingly, my brethren! you see it on the page of inspiration, to renounce the world of cupidity, is to present the body in sacrifice: I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, Rom. xij. 1. it is to cut off a right hand, it is to pluck out a right eye, Matt. v. 29, 30. it is for a man to deny himself, it is to take up the cross : For if any one will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me, Matt. xvi. 24: it is, in a word, to be crucified with Jesus Christ; for I am crucified with Christ, Gal, ii. 20: and in the words of the text, The world is crucified unto unto me, and I am crucified unto the world. My God, how much it costs to be a Christian !